National Party MP Alfred Ngaro spoke to the NZ Herald about his plans for a new party, issued a second apology for comments on abortion in a week, and talked about the possibility of an alliance with Destiny's Brian and Hannah Tamaki.
National Party MP Alfred Ngaro is becoming quite the dab hand at apologising.
Since news broke that Ngaro was weighing up a new Christian-based political party, he has found himself saying things and then apologising for them the next day.
The first came on Tuesday after he was criticised for sharing a Facebook post advertising an anti-abortion rally at Parliament which described abortion as "an unholy holocaust."
Ngaro said he had not read those words when he shared the post, and would have used the word "tragedy" instead of holocaust.
The second came in this interview.
AS he had apologised for the holocaust post, Ngaro said no woman had been made to feel like a criminal for getting an abortion.
This was challenged by several women, who said that actually they were made to feel like criminals.
He now says he has reflected on this.
"When I made those comments over the last two days I have had people contact me and talk to me, and say ... they never said they felt like a criminal, but they felt ashamed, they felt guilt. And so I've had to reflect on that.
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"One thing my values tell me is that if you've done something that has hurt people, you need to put it right. And I want to apologise to people. It was wrong of me to say it in a way that actually made people feel like that."
Ngaro was being asked about those issues because of news he was considering setting up that new party.
He is still just considering it.
Soon after this interview, Destiny Church's Brian and Hannah Tamaki beat Ngaro to the punch, announcing on Thursday that Mrs Tamaki would be the leader of the Coalition New Zealand Party.
She issued a direct invitation to Ngaro to join her, saying while they may have different views on some things, they also had a lot in common.
The interview with Ngaro was just before Tamaki's press conference, but the NZ Herald did ask about a possible combined effort.
Ngaro said he has not talked to Tamaki or anyone at Destiny. He will rule nothing in or out, but he does not sound overly enthusiastic about it.
"I think Brian has got a very strong perspective that is actually about the way Destiny would want to run [his party]. So while we may have things in common, I think we would probably have differences in the way we approach policies, politics."
"I'll have a conversation with anyone, but I think at this stage ... I'm not about to ring him, but who knows – he might call me."
It was the Parliamentary prayer that first started the idea of a Christian party fomenting in Ngaro's head.
Speaker Trevor Mallard had said the reference to Jesus in the prayer at Parliament would be removed.
There were two rallies against that, the largest was last October and attracted almost 1000 people. Ngaro had helped organise it and spoke at it.
"When we had the Jesus for New Zealand march, all of a sudden people got excited. When you start to change some of the foundational things that people have come to believe in, part of what this nation was built on, once you start to shift and poke into things that are constitutional, people say 'hang on, that's always been part of who we know we are."
It is not the only issue: he lists abortion, euthanasia and the legalisation of cannabis as other areas in which long-standing foundations of society are being "rattled."
These topics had prompted people to approach him: "People of faith, people in churches, people who are pastors, people who are leaders, who are ministers, people who are just ordinary people."
The ordinary people included his lawnmower man, who told Ngaro's son he would vote for Ngaro.
So too did a 'stop-go' man at the roadworks outside the cafe where Ngaro was hosting a Pink Ribbon breakfast.
"I said 'why' and he said 'I might not be a Christian, but actually I like those values. Those are the people who are talking to me. Not just people in churches."
"People are now saying 'you're starting to shake, you're starting to rattle, you're starting to stir in places that have been foundation values people have known for a very long time."
The obstacles are many. As yet there are no funding sources, no constitution, no policies, no other candidates, and no members. He needs at least 500 members to register the party.
Ngaro is a List MP so there is no electorate to fall back on unless he can persuade National to try to 'gift' him one, or persuade another National MP to leap with him.
He will not talk about potential candidates "because I do not want to create speculation".
It will not be Botany.
"They're already going through a hard time now as it is with their current MP [Jami Lee Ross] and all of a sudden for people to feel there's been some deal behind the scenes without their knowledge? It can become irresponsible.
"I had no conversations with anyone about Botany."
He insists it is not simply engineered to give the National Party a potential coalition partner - although the prospect of that is almost certainly why National Party leader Simon Bridges is indulging Ngaro.
"That's never been my way. It's never been about that. The conversations came from last year, people asking 'how do we get our voice in here?'"
Ngaro has been an MP since 2011, and was made a minister by then Prime Minister Bill English after English took over the leadership in December 2016.
He made one mistake - in May 2017 at a National Party conference he appeared to suggest Labour candidate Willie Jackson would lose Government support for a charter school if he criticised National on the campaign trail.
He quickly apologised, and English put his comments down to naivety.
Now Ngaro is sitting in his office in the Opposition quarters at Parliament, wearing a three-piece suit with his collar undone.
Behind him is a painting that commemorates the efforts of Cook Islanders in the wars.
Ngaro's own faith has come from his family and upbringing.
He has often spoken about growing up as the son to parents who migrated from the Cook Islands.
They lived in Ponsonby, which Ngaro has said was then the suburb poorer migrants lived in while others sought out utopia in suburbia.
Things have rather reversed: the house he lived in is now worth $2.1 million.
When he lived in it was freezing cold, had an outside toilet and no running water.
When he was 7 years old, his mother – a cleaner – scraped together a deposit by capitalising her benefit and put a deposit on a home in Henderson.
He says his family have been religious since missionary Reverend John Williams visited the Cook Islands in 1821.
"They let off two Tahitian missionaries. The first person to receive the Gospel and come to the Christian faith was my great great grandfather. So that's always been a sense of who we are."
He himself is a pastor, and sometimes still lets fly with sermons at his local church, St Giles in Te Atatu South, where he once went to Sunday School.
He and his wife have four children, aged between 25 and 40, and two grandchildren.
Ngaro tells of the time he went to an evangelism ceremony at the age of 18 to "recommit to a life of faith".
"I picked up a cigarette packet," he says.
This is a rather confusing story about an evangelist who was hitchhiking and somebody threw a cigarette packet at him.
"He said, oh there was a time the cigarette packet was full of stuff and had life to it.' He then related to it and said 'Jesus is in the business of picking up old cigarette packets that people discard, they get used and abused.' "
He goes on to talk about the gold band around the plastic wrapper showing it was unbroken, and likening that to the blood of Christ.
I can make no sense at all of this analogy and nor is Ngaro or Google able to later enlighten me.
Ngaro insists it is powerful, and all about destiny.
We move on.
His favourite biblical saying is "the meek shall inherit the earth".
"Meekness is not weakness," Ngaro says. "Meekness is power under control."
His favourite parable is the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.
One of Ngaro's sons is named Shalom. Ngaro's grandmother was Rita Goldstein, the daughter of a Polish Jew.
Ngaro's apology for sharing the 'holocaust' Facebook post was partly because he said he had not seen that word before sharing.
Ngaro said there was no way he would minimise the Holocaust.
He is the chairman of the Israeli Friendship Group at Parliament: "I believe in Israel as being an important nation."
There is a little more grey in Ngaro's moral views than in those of Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki.
Tamaki was highly critical of the response to the Christchurch mosque attacks, in particular the airing of the Call to Prayer for the one week anniversary.
Ngaro said he stood outside Parliament for that commemoration, where the Call to Prayer was played over speakers.
"We need to be careful because it was a moment of time in our history as a country we needed to show respect. It's a different faith to my faith, but that's why New Zealand is what it is. So for me it was important to show respect."
However, he did acknowledge concerns about state-funded broadcasters being asked to play the Call to Prayer, especially Christian stations.
Of the social issues Ngaro has listed concerns about, he has black and white views on euthanasia.
That's a very firm no from him.
On abortion there is some grey.
He believes there are circumstances in which abortion is justified. One is cases of "trauma" – such as rape.
"Where because of a traumatic incident – it could be rape, it could be other things – because children need to raised in a place where it is a consensual relationship.
If it's not, then it's not my role to condemn a woman for her choice but it is my responsibility to help them."
Another justification would be where the mother's life was at risk.
"That's what a compassionate society should do."
It is hard to get a specific answer about whether he would support any reform to the law, and what that would be.
He is concerned about abortion numbers of 13,000 a year and support for women both before and after abortions. He also believes more should be encouraged to consider adoption.
He is also concerned about reforms that might allow more late-term abortions –the new regime MPs are to vote on is likely to require a statutory test and medical sign-off for abortions beyond 20 weeks.
Ngaro also voted against the law change to allow gay marriage.
He does not resile from this, saying he believed the definition of marriage as between man and women should have stayed, partly because of its roots in Christianity.
He says he would have supported the civil union legislation, which passed before Ngaro got into Parliament.
If a family member or close friend was gay and got married he would go to the wedding, but he would not conduct the service.
"It would go against what I believe in. But it does not mean I could not be there with them, because that's the choice they made."
As for the future of his party, he says he needs more time and more talking before making a final decision.
He will also need more money. When it comes to funding a political party, God does not tend to provide.
Perhaps Destiny will indeed call.